The Police in Rivers State on Wednesday, said the anti-protest policemen who shot and tear-gassed the state Governor, Siminalayi Fubara during his visit to the state House of Assembly complex in Port Harcourt were unaware that the governor was among the crowd approaching the facility.
The police said its personnel did not deliberately attack the governor.
Osun Defender reports that Fubara alleged that a senior officer in the Rivers State Police Command led the team that shot at him on his way to inspect the State House of Assembly Complex that was gutted by fire on Sunday night.
Reacting, to the claim, the Spokesperson for the Police Command in Rivers, SP Grace Iringe-Koko, denied the alleged deliberate attack on the governor.
According to her, “Following the receipt of credible intelligence on the intention of some armed group of persons to cause mayhem, particularly at the House of Assembly, armed police operatives were deployed.
“Also, the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations (DC Ops) deployed the operatives based on the previous case of arson on the assembly building.
“The DC Ops personally supervised (the police operatives) to intercept the ‘hoodlums’ and ensure the protection of lives and properties within the assembly facility and its environs.
Iringe-Koko added that youths numbering over 100 were stationed at the entrance of the assembly complex and conducted themselves in a manner likely to cause a breach of peace during the operation.
She added, “This led to the Police deploying non-lethal crowd control equipment, including tear gas and water cannons to disperse the riotous and uncontrollable protesters.
“However, some minutes later, another aggressive group of people approached the entrance of the complex and advanced toward the premises.
“The Police, therefore, engaged them in a like manner but observed the Governor Siminalayi of Rivers State was in their midst.
“The presence of the governor at the scene was of great surprise and shock as there was no prior communication to the Police on his visit to the scene (assembly building),” she stated.
Iringe-Koko said the usual protocol for any governor visiting a crisis area was to inform the Police ahead to enable the command accompany and provide the governor with the needed security.
She said upon realising the governor was among the crowd of persons approaching the assembly building, the DC Ops immediately ordered his men to stand down and give the governor access.
“To this end, the governor and his entourage went inside the assembly complex to assess the level of damage caused by the fire incident.
“It is pertinent to state that the Police did not deliberately attack the governor, or even attempt to hurt anyone, let alone the chief executive and security officer of the state.
“It is our most essential role to protect the governor, and, as such, the news being peddled in some section of the media is a misrepresentation.”
Kazeem Badmus is a graduate of Mass Communication with years of experience. A professional in journalism and media writing, Kazeem prioritses accuracy and factual reportage of issues. He is also a dexterous finder of the truth with conscious delivery of unbiased and development oriented stories.